CONSCIOUS CITY GUIDES: JOY ASFAR’S LONDON
London dweller Joy Asfar is The Forward Lab’s founder. Here, she lets you in on where to find everything from beautiful vintage glassware to a zero-waste grocer.
Where’s the best place to grab a cup of coffee?
Bar Italia in Soho. I go there for real Italian espresso and they have these amazing pastries, which I love to have as a treat. It’s open until late and always has such a fun vibe – especially on a football night. It was established in 1949 (so to me, this place is the definition of sustainable!) and it still cares for both original design features and a sense of community.
What are your favourite vintage shops or stalls in London?
One of my favourite places to discover great secondhand and pre-loved designer pieces is Sign Of The Times. I live close by and I try to check it out regularly as you never know what will come up!
Do you have a go-to place for vintage homeware or furniture?
I love vintage glassware – call it one of my little quirks. There is a great shop at the corner of Westbourne Grove and Portobello. It’s a treasure trove and David, the owner, will guide you through.
Which restaurant is the one that you tell all of your friends to visit?
This is a tough question as London has a great culinary scene. One I’ve discovered recently is Silo, a zero-waste restaurant in Hackney Wick. As I dined there, I loved watching the power of creativity at work as they plated up such innovative and thoughtful courses.
What’s your favourite plant-based eatery?
Farmacy on Westbourne Grove. I love their artichoke pizzetta and they have great cocktails if you’re in the mood for one.
Do you know any great zero-waste/refill spots?
Liberté Chérie in Notting Hill. It’s at the end of Portobello Road, just before Golborne Road. It’s the cutest place and the staff are great.
Where do you go to find inspiration or sparks of creativity?
Having worked in the art world in London, one of my favourite things to do is a full art day with a friend: museums and galleries. Pick an area, East, West, and start the journey. The Hayward Gallery is one that I always make sure to visit thanks to the way it puts on very unique exhibitions. I still remember the Light Show in 2013 where, as a visitor, we got to explore how we experience and respond to light installations.
Is there anywhere in the city where you can reconnect with nature?
Holland Park’s Kyoto Garden is a peaceful oasis right in the middle of West London. In the autumn the colours are out of this world and the pond makes it a meditative place if you need to get away from the city. Another garden I highly recommend is Queen Mary’s Garden in Regent’s Park. It’s beautifully manicured and it’s where you’ll find the most amazing roses. They say that approximately 12,000 roses are planted there!